Needle In The Hay

Announcing the winners of the 2021 Needle In The Hay vinyl competition!

2021 Needle In The Hay winners

After much deliberation, Happy Mag are proud to unveil the winners of the 2021 Needle In The Hay vinyl competition!

Needle In The Hay is an annual competition created to give artists a shot in the arm when they need it most. With a grand prize of having your single pressed to vinyl and over $35,000 in runner-up prizes to be won, it’s currently Australia’s largest independent music competition.

Not long ago we revealed the list of 30 Needle In The Hay finalists. From there, those 30 finalists were put into the capable hands of Needle In The Hay’s guest judges; artist Megan Washington, producer Eric J, TV and radio host Julia Zemiro, and journalist Bernard Zuel.

Their votes have decided the ultimate winners – and the prizes they’ll be taking home. Here they are.

GRAND PRIZE: Maple Glider – Mama It’s Christmas

A new signing to Pieater, the label home of #1 Dads, Big Scary, Airling and more, Maple Glider is clearly onto something quite special. Her winning entry Mama It’s Christmas is finally out to the world today, as the closing track on her debut album To Enjoy Is The Only Thing.

Her entry received the highest tallied score from all four Needle In The Hay judges, making it the grand prizewinner, joining previous winners Spacey Jane, Kardajala Kirridarra, and IV League in being pressed to vinyl by Zenith Records.

Mama It’s Christmas is as perfect an album closer as one could hope for, a stunning track that truly declares what Maple Glider is all about; spine-chilling vocals, gorgeously simple songwriting, and a vivid talent for visual storytelling.

PRIZES

250 copies of Mama It’s Christmas pressed to 7″ vinyl by Zenith Records
1 x Live Music Video recorded at JMC Academy
1 x Year of Free Unlimited Distribution via Spinnup
1 x IK Multimedia SampleTank 4 Workstation
5 x Customised Zippo Lighters
1 x ujam Full Bundle
1 x Baby Audio Plugin Bundle
1 x FabFilter Pro Bundle
1 x Jameson Irish Whiskey Prize Pack

Emma Volard

2ND PLACE: Emma Volard – Feminitiy

A neo-soul artist from Melbourne, Emma Volard’s lyrics just hit different. Femininity is an anthem of reclamation following a 2020 incident that saw multiple female Australian artists share stories about a predatory male photographer.

As Volard put it in a press release:

“It has become clear to me that many men in the industry are using their power to take advantage of women in vulnerable positions. In no circumstance is this okay, systemic sexism and ignorance is no longer an excuse. We need to fight this together, we need men to be our allies not our gender’s undoing.”

PRIZES

$2,000+ Audio-Technica Prize Pack
1 x IK Multimedia SampleTank 4 Workstation
1 x ujam Full Bundle
1 x Baby Audio Plugin Bundle
1 x Jameson Irish Whiskey Prize Pack

Hannah Cameron Needle In The Hay winners

3RD PLACE: Hannah Cameron – Backsliding

Hannah Cameron makes quiet and arresting folk music that holds subtlety at its core – these aren’t sing-from-the-hilltops anthems, rather slow burners that are made to take you on a journey.

Backsliding starts slowly and never really needs to hasten, a brilliantly arranged single that’s soft or gritty in all the right places. As her most recent single, we’re hoping there’s much more to come from Hannah Cameron in future.

PRIZES

$2,000 Turramurra Music voucher
1 x IK Multimedia SampleTank 4
1 x Baby Audio Plugin Bundle
1 x Jameson Irish Whiskey Prize Pack

4TH PLACE: TOI – Thinking Too Much

Formerly Tunes of I, TOI are a musical collective out of New Zealand who echo the smooth, smooth vibes of Fat Freddy’s Drop. Combining elements of soul, funk, and pop into a delectable cocktail, every song they’ve released to date is a jam.

Their winning entry, Thinking Too Much begins with a gorgeous electric piano progression and only gets warmer from there.

PRIZES

1 x IK Multimedia SampleTank 4 Workstation
1 x ujam Guitarist, Bassist, or Beatmaker Bundle
1 x Baby Audio Plugin Bundle
1 x Jameson Irish Whiskey Prize Pack

5TH PLACE: J-MILLA – Unlock The System

The track J-MILLA entered into Needle In The Hay is special for a number of reasons – and devastating for even more. Unlock The System was written following the death of 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker at the hands of policeman Zachary Rolfe in 2019.

“I called it Unlock the System because I think that grabs everyone’s attention as soon as you read it,” he told NITV.

“I wrote it after what happened to brotherboy Kumanjayi Walker. It was a song for me to reach out to the community and send a message to let everyone know what’s happening in the real world, in community, and just in Australia.”

PRIZES

1 x IK Multimedia SampleTank 4 Workstation
1 x ujam Guitarist, Bassist, or Beatmaker Bundle
1 x Baby Audio Plugin Bundle
1 x Jameson Irish Whiskey Prize Pack

6TH PLACE: Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers – Desk Chair

Beloved by pretty much anyone who crosses their path, Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers are quickly becoming one of Australia’s favourite new rock bands. With a killer live show, one of the best band names on the circuit, and songwriting chops to match, the only way is up for this particular four-piece.

Desk Chair is amongst the band’s finest tunes to date, ripe with vicious guitars and a chorus that’s made to be screamed from a mosh pit. A crowd favourite and now, a Needle In The Hay winner.

PRIZES

1 x IK Multimedia SampleTank 4 Workstation
1 x ujam Guitarist, Bassist, or Beatmaker Bundle
1 x Baby Audio Plugin Bundle
1 x Jameson Irish Whiskey Prize Pack

7TH PLACE: Jannah Beth – Unreleased

It’s hard to pin Jannah Beth down. Her sound combines elements of hip-hop, neo soul, funk, and electronic, and much like her home in Sydney’s Inner West, each release is as wonderfully eclectic as the last.

Jannah Beth entered an unreleased track into Needle In The Hay this year, so be sure to follow her socials to be the first to know when it comes out.

PRIZES

1 x IK Multimedia SampleTank 4 Workstation
1 x ujam Guitarist, Bassist, or Beatmaker Bundle
1 x Baby Audio Plugin Bundle
1 x Jameson Irish Whiskey Prize Pack

8TH PLACE: Earthquake Magnificent – Trick of the Light

Blending elements of disco and indie pop, Trick of the Light from Earthquake Magnificent is impossible not to be charmed by. Led by songwriter Charles Wu, the three-piece band hail from Sydney.

The single comes coupled with a fun, DIY film clip that everyone should watch.

PRIZES

1 x IK Multimedia SampleTank 4 Workstation
1 x ujam Guitarist, Bassist, or Beatmaker Bundle
1 x Baby Audio Plugin Bundle
1 x Jameson Irish Whiskey Prize Pack

9TH PLACE: Johnny Hunter – Try As You May

Johnny Hunter’s blend of new wave and post-punk influences are evident in their atmospheric guitar work, filled with crystalline melodies. Nick Hutt’s dramatic baritone effortlessly cuts through the mix, and his presence onstage is evident to anyone who’s caught them live.

Try As You May is a standout track from the band’s debut EP, Early Trauma, a song that dares to go bigger and bolder than any of Johnny Hunter’s tracks to date.

PRIZES

1 x IK Multimedia SampleTank 4 Workstation
1 x ujam Guitarist, Bassist, or Beatmaker Bundle
1 x Baby Audio Plugin Bundle
1 x Jameson Irish Whiskey Prize Pack

10TH PLACE: Bitch Diesel – Red Love Witch

“…to make everybody have a bit of a lol and stop taking themselves so seriously… then world domination by playing a bit of rock and roll…” 

That’s the scat that opens Red Love Witch by Bitch Diesel, a three-piece punk outfit from Melbourne. Recorded and produced by Tropical Fuck Storm’s Gareth Liddiard, this one’s a real live wire.

Put on your shinpads and give it a listen below:

PRIZES

1 x IK Multimedia SampleTank 4 Workstation
1 x ujam Guitarist, Bassist, or Beatmaker Bundle
1 x Baby Audio Plugin Bundle
1 x Jameson Irish Whiskey Prize Pack

Happy Mag will be celebrating Needle In The Hay with a party in Sydney on Friday July 30th, inviting a number of these winners alongside some surprises guests to The Bank Hotel in Newtown.

Join us for a free night of live music, DJs, and the launch of next year’s Needle In The Hay competition. RSVP to the Facebook event here.

Special thanks to SpinnupJMC AcademyZenith RecordsJMC AcademyTurramurra MusicIK MultimediaZippoujam, FabFilter, Baby Audio, and Jameson Irish Whiskey for being a part of Needle In The Hay.